An update on nuisance and derelict properties prompted a discussion at a Halifax Town Council work session Tuesday evening. Town manager Carl Espy provided the update to council.
Espy shared that several properties that had been previously notified about nuisance issues, including properties on Houston Street, had shown marked improvement.
Espy also gave a status update on two rental properties on Maple Avenue. The town’s police department did welfare checks and took photographs at the property, and that information was provided to the building official’s office in late summer 2019, Espy said.
“While they’re not occupied, we would certainly want them to be remedied before they ever would be considered to be rented,” Espy said. “We’re just waiting to hear from the building code official on that and several other properties, as well.”
The town of Halifax and the town of South Boston rely on the county building official’s office to deem a structure unsafe/ unfit for habitation, Espy explained. Once the building official deems a structure unsafe, Espy said the locality has the authority to request the building owner to make repairs to the property to bring it up to code. If the building owner does not make the repairs, the town has the option of demolishing the structure or taking out a lien on the property.
Councilman Jack Dunavant inquired about the status of a property on Mountain Road. Espy replied that a local contractor had been contacted by the property owner to do pressure washing, painting and clearing of debris. This is not the first time the owner has been asked to clear debris on the property site.
Dunavant remarked, “I think we’re being too good to these people who do not want to live up to the standards that we have set. I think we need to tighten up.”
Councilman William “Bill” Confroy expressed concerns about what he perceives as hampered progress on derelict properties.
“Every time we approach them, we give them another opportunity to do it, and they do a little bit,” Confroy said. “And then it goes back into the disrepair, and we’ll contact them again, and we’ve been doing this back and forth for two to three years now?”
Espy responded, “You’re exactly right. Unfortunately, there are some property owners that play that game.”
Espy said the town has had to go back and forth with an estimated four property owners about nuisance issues at their properties, even up to the point of having to demolish some of the properties.
The town manager told council he appreciated their discussion and concern about the progress of action on nuisance properties, because the town of South Boston has the same issue – relying on the building official’s office to inspect properties before being able to take action on the properties.
Confroy said he would like to see the county expand the position of building inspector to accommodate the towns in Halifax County. He also recommended placing the item on the agenda for council’s April meeting.